Playing the Classics

Beall shares at least some of these sentiments: "It's formula. That's the state, I think, of country music right now." St. John is not quite as critical. "There's still a lot of good new stuff out there," he insists, "but it seems like it's turned into a country-rock thing." In Nashville's frenzy to break the next big thing, he goes on, "something gets lost in the rush."

When asked if hit-oriented country radio could survive an occasional song by the genre's founders, St. John smiles. "They could probably get away with it, but we don't want to tell them that," he says. "We want to keep that to ourselves."

For his part, Beall isn't nearly so circumspect. Even when he's programming commercials or the afternoon news, he can't stop talking about the music he loves to play. As he sees it, "The generation we live in longs for a less complicated, purer time, and I think that's what classic country music provides. It's fun, it's simple, it's loving, it's hokey. It's everything you like!

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